Vanessa came to the University of Washington’s Medicinal Chemistry PhD program in the Fall of 2018. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, while also minoring in Biology and Chicano studies at California State University Channel Islands. During her undergraduate experience she participated in a summer research program at the University of New Mexico where she studied hippocampal neurogenesis following prenatal alcohol exposure; while at her home institution she synthesized nucleoside-sulfonamide conjugates for antimicrobial activity. She additionally worked with groups in the community to raise awareness on pesticide exposure effects on reproductive health. Her diverse research experience and her passions for environmental justice and health motivated Vanessa to specifically study how environmental agents can affect human health. Vanessa joined the Xu lab in the late spring of 2019 where she is happily investigating Benzalkonium Chloride compounds and their effects on the microbiome. She is interested in examining effects within the gut-liver axis and is additionally hoping to tackle the gut-brain axis! Her long-term goal is to stay in academia, as she thoroughly enjoys teaching and motivating others to pursue higher education. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, reality TV, quality time with friends, baking and playing with her dog, Sammy!